Billy Bush sat down with Stephen Colbert on Monday for his first TV interview about the now-infamous Donald Trump bus tape, getting candid about the recording and subsequent fallout.
“It was a difficult time,” Bush recalled. “I think it was very hot, emotionally in the country. A lot of people were not comfortable with the man who was close to winning the election and a lot of things happened quickly.”
The former NBC host penned an op-ed this week in response to New York Times reports that President Trump has recently been questioning the authenticity of the 2005 recording -- in which Bush, then a reporter for Access Hollywood, is heard laughing as Trump makes lewd comments about women.
"He said it.. Of course he said it," Bush wrote. "Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass stand-up act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real. We now know better."
After the recording went public, Bush lost his job at the Today show, while Trump went on to be elected the 45th president of the United States, a fact Colbert couldn’t help but point out on Monday’s Late Show.
“The very day he was swearing in as the 45th President of the United States, I was checking into this soul-searching retreat in Santalina, California for nine days,” Bush quipped.
“My boss, later, months later, said publicly, 'I think we may have moved a little quickly,'” he continued. “I will say, I would have liked the chance to have been able to address the audience that following Monday. But it was right after the debate and I think the tape made it in time for the debate, so I didn’t get that.”
Colbert also asked Bush if Matt Lauer -- the longtime Today show host who was recently fired by NBC following multiple reports of sexual misconduct -- had made any efforts to save his job at the time.
“We had a conversation about that and I was told, he told me, that he went privately to the bosses and took that line,” Bush recalled. “I said I appreciated it, and I accepted it, and thanked him.”
In his op-ed, Bush wrote that "this last year has been an odyssey, the likes of which I hope to never face again: anger, anxiety, betrayal, humiliation, many selfish but, I hope, understandable emotions. But these have given way to light, both spiritual and intellectual." He told Colbert that he hopes the recent string of allegations against several powerful Hollywood players sparks a new dialogue surrounding sexual assault and victim-blaming.
“I think that the bus ride was the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “I'm worried that the dialogue isn't gonna be around, because we have all these [things], we get onto the next thing. We get on our phones, the next outrage comes. We have to continue it all the way through and I hope we do that.”
A source at NBC told ET that it was “a rough week for everyone" in the wake of Lauer’s firing last week. Check out who the long-running morning show may be considering to replace him in the video below.